“Ghostrunner” review: One of the best platform jumping games of the year is… first person?

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First-person platform jumping games are probably the most underestimated of all game types. The number of such games is scarce, but “Ghostrunner” is the proof that such games need more attention. “Ghostrunner” injects the precision and skill requirements that are often limited to the 2D platform jump into the first person. While ensuring the accuracy of control, it also adds the speed and tension that 2D games struggle to convey.

To be classified as a “first-person platform jump” game, it is not enough to just jump back and forth in the first person. “Halo” also requires jumping, but to say that platform jumping is important in the series is a bit far-fetched. But for platform jumping games, precise platform jumping must be the core element throughout the entire game experience.

Even if some games fit this definition, most of them are just embellished with platform jumping. Among the works released in recent years, the platform jump in “Doom: Eternity” is nothing more than a distracting mechanism for players to interrupt the simple fun of killing demons. “Dying Light” adds elements of climbing and parkour to avoiding zombies. The platform jump is much better than the main close combat of the game, so that the fighting part seems to slow down the pace of the game. But few platform jumps can take full advantage of first-person games. In fact, among the masterpieces, the only example that is eye-catching is “Mirror’s Edge” and its sequels.

Such scarcity of such games is not unreasonable. The key to platform jumping games is the acquisition of information: how much distance needs to be crossed in the next jump, and where to go after landing. The perspective of the first-person game is limited to the front of the character, while the 2D platform jumping game presents the environment before or even halfway through the jump, like a jumping puzzle game. First-person games are very difficult to solve the problem of missing information. In the worst case, it is like repeated trial and error, but it is impossible to correct the error at any time.

But “Ghostrunner” solved these perspective problems in another way, thanks to a wonderful mechanism. Players need to control the mechanical ninja to break through a tower in a futuristic style. It contains all the elements needed for a first-person platform jumping game, such as running against the wall, sliding, sprinting in the air, and even grappling hooks. But the most unique mechanism in the game is to temporarily slow down the flow of time in the air. This is a great help to the battle, allowing me to avoid bullets and fully experience the fun of playing a mechanically enhanced ninja, but this is not the only purpose of this mechanism.

When encountering a platform jump, slowing down the time allows me to still have the opportunity to make some fine-tuning after the jump. Although I can’t see through the whole jumping puzzle the moment I enter the room, I can still make adjustments at any time. This makes the platform jump a combination of careful planning and temporary workarounds to save those failed jumps that are far beyond the expected distance. “Ghostrunner” also combines this mechanism with its limited combat. Any attack is a one-shot kill, whether I cut a guard in two, or I was instantly killed by a stray bullet. This means that every battle is actually a platform jump to solve the mystery. I have to figure out how to clear the entire room in the safest way. This also forces me to look at obstacles from a different perspective. If I jump towards someone head-on, there may be no chance of survival; but if I use the grappling hook to get behind them and then use the wall to run back, I can Approach them before they take aim.

Boss battles also focus on platform jumps, such as the battle with giant computers. This is not an ordinary battle, it is more like a laser defense net evading this computer through a platform jump. This boss battle is quite difficult, especially when compared with other previous battles in the game, players need to complete dozens of perfect jumps in a row. Even the slightest difference will return to the beginning of the boss battle. The end of those extremely difficult 2D platform jumping games is often this type of boss, but I have never encountered this kind of attempt in a first-person game before, and the effect is so good.

The subsequent levels seem to take everything I have experienced in the game to new heights. There are countless routes to pass, such as walls that can run next to your body, hook points, and roofs to find the perfect route for players to explore. Enemies usually appear in the most difficult combinations; to find a ray of life under their guns, shields and swords, they must come up with unprecedented coping strategies.

In the first person, galloping from a wall or platform to the next foothold has a unique feeling. Compared with 2D platform jumping games, the movement speed in the first person seems to be faster, the window time seems to be shorter, the timing seems more difficult to grasp, and the impact of falling to the ground due to a jumping error is also stronger. “Ghostrunner” successfully demonstrated to everyone, that is, when limited to a game type that is not favored, how developers can turn corruption into magic.

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